Woody Herman

Jazz Casual: Woody Herman & The Swinging Herd

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The appearance of Woody Herman & the Swingin' Herd marks a definite change of pace from other editions of Ralph Gleason's Jazz Casual series, because it is one of the first appearances of a large ensemble on the program. In spite of sound problems present on some of the other Jazz Casual shows featuring brass and woodwinds, here the blend of instruments is well-recorded. Energy is the key element within these performances, as Herman's young band burns brightly during the strutting opening blues "Molasses," which Gleason sarcastically refers to as "quiet little dinner music" afterwards to Herman. Tenor saxophonist Sal Nistico, trumpeter Bill Chase, and Herman all contribute fine solos. Chase composed an enticing up-tempo rumba, "El Toro Grande," while "It's a Lonesome Old Town" is the one low-key ballad on this date, featuring trombonist Phil Wilson. Pianist Nat Pierce mixes bop and boogie-woogie in the lively "That's Where It Is." During the interview segment, Herman explains what his goals are for his band, stating that it wasn't his desire to turn the ensemble into a purely nostalgia act but to keep evolving. It is hard to deny that he is successful on this occasion. His onstage enthusiasm is hard to beat and proves infectious to the viewer.

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